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Fed-up residents are calling on Oban High School to clean up its act and stop giving them the brush-off over litter.
Wrappers, crisp bags, chip containers and discarded drink bottles and cans are just some of the regular rubbish left littering streets around the school, taking the toll on people living there.
One of them who has had enough is Alan MacDonald who lives in Glenfoot Terrace and desperately wants to start-up talks between the high school and its neighbours to try and come up with a litter-busting solution.
But Mr MacDonald said his efforts so far, both in person and by phone, to get a dialogue going with head teacher Peter Bain and other senior staff have been ‘fobbed off.’ He told The Oban Times that one staff member curtailed one phone call and on another occasion office staff told him they had been instructed to hang up if he called again.
Mr MacDonald also said he had been told to call police on 101 instead because once off school premises, its students are not its responsibility.
‘The school’s response to all this has been very poor so far. It’s as if they just want to wipe their hands off it and give us the brush-off. It’s turned into a vicious circle. Have I had to call them more times than I want? Yes, because they haven’t got back to me. It’s not me who is the nuisance here or the pest – it’s those responsible for chucking rubbish about. I haven’t even had the chance to discuss the issue properly with the school because my calls have been curtailed or hung up on,’ he said.
‘The litter problem has been going on so long now that the community living near the school are just at the point where we have had enough. We need to be able to communicate with them – have a proper conversation. If that doesn’t happen then we can’t make a plan on how to work things out for the better,’ added Mr MacDonald who is blind and repeatedly experiences hazards, slipping on left-over food, wrappers and drinks on steps leading into his block and unknowingly treading chewing gum into his carpet.
His friends and his parents try to keep the way-in clear for him as best they can but are frustrated having to continually clean up any mess on the ground – especially as there is a bin just yards away.
Other hot spots are near the supermarkets and Birchwood garage, Lynn Court, Nelson Road and McColl Terrace where there is a small playpark.
Some neighbours have started taking a photograph log of the rubbish.
Residents who spoke to The Oban Times said strewn brown paper bags from the school canteen pointed the finger at pupils being responsible for most of the waste.
Others said trying to approach youngsters to pick up rubbish only ended in backchat. Some said they had felt ‘intimidated’.
During school holidays the problem disappears but comes back when classes return, they said.
‘It’s not as if there aren’t enough bins, they’re just not using them,’ said one man who suggested class monitors looking out for litter-bug peers might be one idea.
Councillor Jim Lynch said he was aware of residents’ concerns and had started a dialogue with Mr Bain. He added litter was a growing problem across the town and was an issue that needed tackling, encouraging people of all ages to behave responsibly.
‘Perhaps putting signs on bins to make them more visible would be one idea,’ he said.
A council spokesperson said: ‘Oban High School is committed to encouraging responsible citizenship and educating pupils about the importance of disposing of litter appropriately. The school has been working in close partnership with Police Scotland and the council wardens as part of this.
‘Pupils at Oban High are proud of their town and the school’s eco-group, learning centre and many other civic minded pupils and staff regularly carry out litter picks in the area. It is important to stress that it is the responsibility of everyone in the community to play their part to help keep Argyll and Bute beautiful. If you catch anyone in the act of littering, please call Police Scotland on 101.
To report littering in general, you can report it at www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/rubbish-and-recycling/looking-after-your-streets
Caption: Glenfoot Terrace resident Alan MacDonald, right, with friend Billy Thompson who are among people living near Oban High School wanting a clean-up campaign